Colville Food Bank remodels kitchen

By: 
Katie Dunn
S-E Reporter

The Colville Food Bank received upgrades in August, making way for better services and potential new classes.

It all began with a conversation between Michelle Loftis, Executive Director of the Colville Food Bank, and Anita Sailor, senior nutrition program manager with Rural Resources.

Volunteers at the Colville Food Bank have always repackaged food donated in bulk bags, like dividing up a 50 pound bag of rice.

When Loftis was discussing repackaging food with Sailor, she learned that in order to be compliant with state regulations, the food bank needed a Food Processor License.

There are many situations where a Food Processor License is required.

If a facility cooks, bakes, freezes, slices, dehydrates, smokes, roasts coffee beans, bottles water or repackages any type of food and processes/packages food for someone else, then this license is required, according to the Washington State Department of Agriculture (WSDA).

A WSDA licensed Food Processing Facility is also required as part of a WSDA Food Processor License.

Requirements for a WSDA Food Processing Facility include worktables/counters in good repair with surfaces that are easily cleaned, and sinks with compartments able to accommodate the largest utensils used in the facility.

Licensed food processing facilities are allowed to use a three-compartment sink, or a two-compartment sink with an additional third sanitizing tub, if necessary, according to WSDA.

Loftis discovered that Colville Food Bank needed a three basin sink, along with a hand-wash sink, if they wanted to qualify for the license.

To incorporate a new sink, the old cabinets had to go.

Loftis said the old cabinets were inadequate. It would have cost more money to remodel and customize the old cabinets than to just buy new ones.

Now the food bank has a new set of wood cabinets that incorporate a three compartment sink.

The new cabinets make the space feel more like a kitchen, and they offer more storage space, according to Loftis.

The food bank also purchased an upgraded refrigerator/freezer.

Previously, the food bank had a residential refrigerator/freezer that was not made to be opened and closed all day long. The new commercial model can withstand the food bank’s daily operations.

To pay for these improvements, Loftis applied for the Inland Northwest Community Foundation’s (INCF) Rapid Response Grant. The INCF works with nonprofit organizations throughout the region to assist with a wide-range of community issues and opportunities.

The INCF approved a $10,000 grant for the food bank’s remodel.

The grant has so far completely covered the cost of construction.

Grant money will also go toward the Food Processing License application fee, according to Loftis.

The food bank is very appreciative of all support with the renovations.

“Lowe’s Home Improvement gave us a screaming deal on the fridge and freezer unit, Haney Lumber was very good to us for the price of the cabinets and West One Plumbing did a really good job with plumbing,” said Loftis. “We’re very grateful that we’ve had those community partners help us make this happen, and keep us within our budget.”

On August 24 Loftis explained that she was in the middle of finishing the application for the license, which she planned to complete by the end of the week.

Anyone interested in seeing the renovations, or anyone who wants to volunteer, is encouraged by Loftis to visit the food bank.

Classes

In the future, the food bank would like to start up “Food Wise” classes. Classes will teach kitchen techniques, like how to cook dry beans or how to can food.

This series of classes will be open to the community, with priority going to food bank clientele.

Loftis said she also wants to implement an after school program where kids can come to the food bank after school once or twice a month to learn how to make nutritional snacks.

“We just want to help people understand that your food choices play an enormous part in your health,” said Loftis.

Article as seen in the Statesman-Examiner.

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